Archive | September, 2014

Dell Inspiron 14 5000 Series – a Stylish Laptop at a Budget Price

Posted on 29 September 2014

If you are looking for a thin and light laptop which is affordable, the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 series is surely a laptop you should consider purchasing. It’s attractive, perfect for short trips and provides a performance good enough for you to get through daily tasks and entertainment easily.

Design & Features
When it comes to design, the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 series looks better than various other laptops in this price range. The chassis is made of polycarbonate with a brushed metal finish on the lid, in addition to a Dell logo in the middle. Most of the mainstream laptops you will find are heavy and thick. However, that is not the case here as it’s one of the lightest and thinnest laptops available on the market.

The keyboard is backlit and spill-resistant with keys which are a bit spongy but overall not a bad typing experience. The touchpad is fairly large and capable of supporting gestures up to four fingers. Coming to the display, it features a decent 14-inch touch-screen display which has a 1336 x 768 resolution. The main drawback is it appears to get duller in daylight, which might prove to be problematic. Also, the colors and contrast aren’t that impressive.
Processor & OS

The 14 5000 series comes with three different configuration options. The typical model boasts an Intel Core i3 CPU that is backed with 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, and an Intel Graphics HD 4400 integrated graphics. You can also step up to Core i5 or Corei7 processor with an impressive 8GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive. The laptop comes preloaded with Windows 8.1 OS.

So, with the Dell Inspiron 14 5000, you can easily carry out your tasks with ease, making it the ideal choice if you are looking for a laptop which provides decent features at a budget price. It is definitely a laptop you can consider buying.

Photo courtesy: Dell

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Apple iPhone 6 – the Highly Anticipated Smartphone

Posted on 26 September 2014

The most highly anticipated smartphone of the year, the iPhone 6 is finally out with a bigger version, the iPhone 6 Plus, accompanying it. This is the first time Apple has released two phones at once. However, coming back to the iPhone 6, it comes with a bigger and crisp display, better camera autofocus, improved Wi-Fi and LTE speeds, in addition to storage capabilities of up to 128GB. Overall, a bigger smartphone that is easy to handle with plenty of features to satisfy smartphone users.

Design
The phone is slightly thinner than its forerunners with a bigger screen size. It’s a partly curved design which is folded by glass slightly around the edges. It’s beautifully solid and feels good to hold, thanks to the smooth glass front and metal back. However, it does have a certain feel of fragility to it, maybe because of its extra slim-look. Also, the camera lens on the rear of the iPhone 6 is slightly protruded, which could cause some unwanted scratches if placed on rough
surfaces.

The buttons this time are elongated like those on the iPad and iPod touch. Similar to some Android phones, the sleep/power button has been shifted to the right. If you are a hardcore Apple user, it may take some time to get used to. At the bottom of the screen is the round Touch ID home button which works amazingly. Just a simple press of your finger and it unlocks your phone.

Performance
Both the iPhone 6 models feature the new A8 processor. Just like the A7, it’s a 64-bit dual-core processor. However, it’s faster and delivers a better graphics boost. Coming towards the apps, the user interface and app-launching speed is quick.

Camera
Like the iPhone 5S, the phone packs a 1.2-megapixel camera on the front and 8-megapixel camera on the rear, with major improvements in autofocus. Yes, your days of tapping are finally over. However, there are no differences in the results of both cameras. The video though, looks good, smooth and clear even when moving.

Battery Life
The iPhone 6’s battery disappoints as it isn’t any better than the previous model. The iPhone 5S can run up to 11 hours whereas the iPhone 6 lasts around 10 hours and 30 minutes. Even during casual use, you can expect the same kind of battery drainage.

So, the iPhone 6 may not be revolutionary, but it is a good phone and should be considered if you have the money.

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Dell Inspiron 14 5000 Series

Posted on 19 September 2014

The Dell Inspiron 14 5000 Series is nothing spectacular. But then again you are paying $550. Below we list down the pros and cons of this laptop and give our take on it.

To start off, the touchpad is large and supports multitouch gestures up to four fingers. You also get a decent 14-inch touchscreen with a 1366×768-pixel resolution. In the wireless department, you get the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

As far as the sound quality is concerned, the front speakers can get loud enough without distorting the audio. Even then if you seek to do some serious listening, consider getting some speakers and headphones. Battery time is also good at about 7 hours. Other features include two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 ports, a full-size HDMI output, an SD memory card slot, and Ethernet. There is also a headphone and mic jack.

The best features of the Inspiron 14 5000 are its design and size. It has above-average looks, especially when compared with laptops in this price range. The chassis is mostly polycarbonate and the lid has a metal finishing. A sample Dell logo is placed in the middle. And while it is not the thinnest or the lightest 14-inch laptop in the market, it is highly convenient to carry in your shoulder bag around campus, or while you are on a flight. The specs are as follows: the laptop is 22mm thick and weighs 4.8 pounds. It has a width and depth of 13.5 x 9.7 inches.

But here’s the down side. While the keyboard is backlit and spill-resistant, you will experience a fair amount of flex. And while the touchpad is decent, you can hit the palm-rejection setting when attempting to type with your hands on the palm rest. Finally, the screen doesn’t allow you to work in bright daylight as the color and contrast easily become problematic.

To sum up, the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 series is best suited to the budget conscious users that need something that can easily be carried around.

Photo courtesy: Dell

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Netgear Challenges the RT-AC87U Router Recently Launched by Asus With Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart Wi-Fi R7500

Posted on 15 September 2014

Does It Live Up to the Cha?

Are you looking for a high-performance Digital Video Recorder (DVR) for your TV? Simple.TV 2 might just be the perfect choice for you. The cord-cutting DVR is the latest iteration of Simple.TV and looks quite like a streaming box now. The original device looked like something Apple would make. It is larger than a Roku but doesn’t take up much space.
First things first, you will notice that there is a cooling fan inside the grille. The issue is that the fan does make some noise and if the sound is turned down, it is quite audible. This is the biggest drawback of the Simple.TV 2. Because of the fan, you get the feeling you have turned on a PC when you switch the DVR on. There are some firmware updates you can download and install to minimize the noise.

The price has been hiked, as was expected, and the Simple.TV 2 costs $200, $50 more than its predecessor. The software featured in the device enables you to use a range of platforms, from Android to iOS, and also multiple browsers. According to the makers, using the Android app offers the most stable performance. You can also stream shows outside your home through the Whole-Planet Remote Access feature. It costs $150 for lifetime subscription.
You can also download offline content. Click on the ‘Download’ icon and the program will be uploaded to the server and converted so you can watch it. It does take a long time to download high-quality videos but that is the case with most DVRs. Also, you cannot share videos across multiple networks. You will get an error if you try to do so.

Regarding performance, the picture quality gets compromised when you view the content on a larger screen. Also, optimal functionality is limited to two users at a time. As far as the price is concerned, the $150 lifetime fee is economical and proves quite cost-effective in the long run.

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Sony MDR-XB950BT – the Perfect Combination of Bass and Bluetooth

Posted on 12 September 2014

Are you looking for Bluetooth headphones that offer a killer bass? Well, look no further than the Sony MDR-XB950BT. Sony’s latest set of headphones offers a perfect combination of bass and Bluetooth, something few other headphones on the market can claim to provide. According to Sony, the headphones deliver ‘a powerful audio experience’ and that is what they do, for the most part. Let’s look at the gadget in more detail.

Sony has definitely upgraded the specs and appearance of the headphones. They have come up with a new look for their over-ear headphones, one you can expect to see in the headphones the company makes in the future. The USP of the product is the bass. So far, there are no clear indications of how the overall sound quality of the headphones is affected by the extra bass. There have been many cases of companies sacrificing audio performance to enhance the bass and that no longer works for customers.

As far as the Bluetooth is concerned, you can use it for audio streaming. The headphones come with apt-X and AAC support to enhance Bluetooth connectivity. There is also the Electronic Bass Boost which is being touted as the main feature of the headphones. You can also operate the headphones in passive mode using the cord when you don’t want to use the battery. The battery is rechargeable and can be used for listening to 20 hours of music. You get a detachable audio cable and a USB charging cable with the headphones.

The design of the headphones is comfortable and you wouldn’t have any problems even if you keep them on for a few hours at a stretch. You can also enjoy hands free calling using the built-in microphone. The best part is the one-touch connectivity, ensuring you don’t have to fiddle around to get the headphones to work. The Sony MDR-XB950BT features Near Field Communication (NFC) to deliver enhanced performance.

The Sony MDR-XB950BT will hit the market in mid-September and cost $199.99. At that price tag, the headphones are definitely worth your money.

Photo courtesy: Sony

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Netgear Nighthawk X4 – the not So Smart ‘Smart’ Wi-Fi Router

Posted on 08 September 2014

Netgear attempts to challenge the RT-AC87U router recently launched by Asus with its Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart Wi-Fi R7500. Does it live up to the challenge? The answer is ‘no’. The disappointing aspect is that the router features a powerful processor yet does not build up on the features and performance of its predecessor. The interface remains the same and at a time when customers are looking for convenience, this one does not cut it.

Of course, it would be wrong to say that the router is useless just because it didn’t match expectations. There are some great features, the best of which is its range. You might be surprised at the long range it offers. You get clear signals and fast browsing even when at a distance from the router. Moreover, it has a smart QoS feature. Using this feature, you can optimize the performance of your internet connection to enjoy a smoother and overall better browsing and downloading experience.

In addition, you can use the router as an NAS server, and a good one at that, when connecting an external hard drive to your computer or laptop. The Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart Wi-Fi R7500 also supports Time Machine without the need for any additional installation. On the other hand, there are far more faster routers available on the market and the interface is a huge letdown. There are simply too many items on the menu for a user to operate it effectively.

Perhaps the biggest of all drawbacks is the price. At $280, the router is just too expensive. The performance it offers does not at all justify the price tag you have to bear when you purchase it. Unless you are looking for a router with a long Wi-Fi range, you will find the Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart Wi-Fi R7500 a substandard product and hardly worth its current price. So, it is best to look for alternate options if you want a new router.

Photo courtesy: Netgear

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The HTC Butterfly 2: Comfortably Trumps the One M8

Posted on 05 September 2014

Yes, it is not the Desire or the One M8, the flagship brands of the HTC brand. It is also not has well-known to American customers as the Butterfly S, which along with the Verizon Droid DNA, was launched in the US market. But even though the HTC Butterfly only hit the Asian markets, it still gives products like One M8 a run for their money.

As far as the design is concerned, it is pretty similar to the previous models in the Butterfly series. However, notes were also taken from the M8. In fact, the Butterfly 2 also resembles the M8 in not only the size, but design as well, while still adorning the shiny colors and the polycarbonate plastic that have become staple of the Butterfly Series. And the skin is of course waterproof, which is also a plus point. However, the glossy rear face can easily catch finger marks.

The Butterfly also has the front-facing BoomSound speakers like the M8. However, since the Butterfly has mostly glass on the front, small ports have been cut on both ends for the speakers without looking out of place. Not to mention, the phone offers amazing audio quality.

The Butterfly 2 also flies high with the powerful dual-camera. However, the main camera has been brought down to 13-pixels, which many consider a drawback of the device.

Moving on, another strong feature of the Butterfly is the powerful quad-core processor. The phone comes packing a Qualcom Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor. You also get either 16GB or 32GB of storage along with 2GB of RAM.

The 5-inch screen packs in Full HD resolution (1,920×1,080 pixels) and is sharp and bright. However, you will often notice that the auto brightness isn’t adjusting correctly to the surrounding light. This results in an extra dim display. This is the greatest drawback of the Butterfly 2.

Will the phone be launched in the west? Nobody knows for sure. But since it offers 4G that supports both TD and FDD LTE bands, this may indicate a US or UK launch in the near future. We also don’t anything about the price as yet. But rest assured, the Butterfly is one of the best HTC phones as of now.

Photo courtesy of HTC

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